Louis De Belle was born in Milan, holds a BA in Visual Communication from the Politecnico di Milano and a MFA in Photography from the Bauhaus University of Weimar. He currently lives in Berlin.
Every two years, members of the religious industry and representatives of the clergy meet in the North East of Italy for the World Fair for Church supplies, liturgical and ecclesiastical art. According to the BBC, the Italian market for religious goods is worth an estimated $5.2b a year. I wanted to focus on this threshold between sacred and profane and how our perception might change when people handle religious goods in a different context. At the World Church Fair you can pick up a Madonna figurine for 20 bucks, while an intricately carved relief panel might be well into five-figures. The most coveted items are invariably made by hand in Italy, but you don't have to look too hard to find things made in China. There is this controversial aspect of Catholicism mixed with money, and it's something that is tricky to talk about, but is easier to talk about through photography. I wanted to refer to it in a more abstract way, by using images. These images offer a glimpse of a world most people rarely see. They raise questions about what makes some objects holy and others mundane, and at what point a commodity becomes sacred.
- Louis De Belle